Rotting corpse left in Wayne County morgue, family claims
Detroit — The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office left a rotting corpse in the morgue for 22 days before contacting the dead man's family, according to a federal court lawsuit.
The family of Gregory Javizian sued the office and Chief Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt on Thursday, alleging staff mutilated the dead man's corpse, needlessly conducted an autopsy and failed to contact relatives for almost one month.
Javizian's parents, Royal Oak couple Charles Garry and Patricia Javizian, filed the civil rights lawsuit and want more than $225,000 in damages.
A Wayne County spokeswoman declined comment.
Gregory Javizian, 32, died July 11, 2017, alone in a field in Detroit of an apparent drug overdose.
The father of two was found with a needle in his arm, according to the lawsuit.
When investigators found his body, they also found his wallet, which contained Javizian's driver's license and Social Security card, the parents said.
"A medic at the scene conducted a medical evaluation of Gregory’s body and pronounced death by drug overdose," the couple's attorney Mary Mahoney wrote. "As the medic had declared the cause of death, there was no need for an autopsy. Nevertheless, Detroit Police Officers released the body to the (medical examiner)."
The next day, before trying to identify the body, the medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy, the parents claim.
"Given the circumstances under which Gregory was found (needle in arm and cap in mouth), and the obvious manner of death by drug overdose, it was unnecessary . . . to perform an autopsy or to remove the organs for the purpose of conducting a drug test," the lawyer wrote.
The medical examiner's staff removed Javizian's organs without his parents' consent and illegally mutilated the man's body, according to the lawsuit.
The autopsy was performed even though the medical examiner's office failed to identify the dead man and notify next of kin, as required by state law, according to the lawsuit.
"Defendants had the ability to fingerprint Gregory for the purpose of identifying his body since Gregory had a criminal record and his fingerprints are recorded," the lawyer wrote.
His death certificate cites fentanyl and heroin toxicity as the cause of death, according to the lawsuit.
On July 14, Javizian's parents tried to file a missing person's report after worrying that they had not heard from their son in several weeks.
A Detroit Police Officer blocked them from filing a report because Javizian did not live in their home, according to the lawsuit.
"The Javizians continued to worry about what had happened to their son," Mahoney wrote. "They did not know that their son was lying on a cold slab in the Wayne County morgue."
On Aug. 1, 2017, a medical examiner's office investigator contacted the family, 22 days after Javizian's body arrived at the morgue, according to the lawsuit.
"When the Javizians arrived at the morgue, the sight of Gregory’s mutilated and decomposed body shook them to the core and caused them severe mental anguish and extreme emotional distress," the lawyer wrote. "Gregory’s body was severely decomposed by the time defendants notified the Javizians of its location, denying the Javizians the comfort of knowing that their son had been given a peaceful and dignified resting place."
A funeral director spent three days trying to make Javizian's body reasonably presentable for an open-casket funeral, according to the lawsuit.
"Despite the funeral director’s best efforts to camouflage the extreme state of decomposition, Gregory’s body appeared spoiled and disfigured, causing deep humiliation and embarrassment to the Javizians," the lawyer wrote.